8 February 2017
SSHURSA Calls On President Kirr To Restrain From Harmful Public Statements
South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy(SSHURSA), strongly calls again on President Salva Kiir to restrain from publicly uttering emotional statements that can harm life.
On 6 February 2017, while addressing members of the public in Yei town, President Kiir was reported to have ordered his Minister of Defence to execute any soldier of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). President Kiir described soldiers to be executed as ‘those who would be suspects of crimes and human rights abuses’.
The execution order by President Kiir could have been borne out of frustration due to continued violation of human rights by the indisciplined SPLA soldiers.
However, the order is legally problematic: it cuts out the due process of the law as the soldiers to be executed, would be taken as guilty without subjecting them to a fair trial. Such a would-be summary execution, emotionally ordered by President Kiir without regard to the letter and spirit of the law, is contrary to Article 19 (1) and 190 (a) of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011(TCSS 2011, as amended).
The Constitution provides for the presumption of innocence of an accused person and one can only be declared a criminal after his or her guilt has been established before a court of law, through legally laid down processes in a fair trial.
President Kiir’s execution order is also a confirmation of absence of rule of law in South Sudan. In a normal law-abiding state, it is NOT the head of the state to decide who should be found guilty but the courts of law, on evidence presented, determine the guilt of an accused person.
In 2015, President Kiir publicly verbally made a death warning against journalists whom he described as against his government. A few days later, a South Sudanese journalist, Peter Moi Julius, was gunned down in Juba by unknown armed persons.
By President Kiir’s repeat of such statements, he is indirectly giving a blanket warrant to some indisciplined SPLA generals to kill some soldiers instead of arresting and taking them to Court for fair trial.
SSHURSA calls on President Kiir to always restrain from stating public statements, which are harmful to the lives of the people if misunderstood and misinterpreted. SSHURSA urges President Kiir to instead, through just law, ensure discipline among his generals to respect human rights, rule of law, rules of engagement and other principles of international humanitarian law.
Disciplined army command will result in disciplined soldiers who will respect human dignity, especially the dignity of women and children who have been victims of heinous acts of the indisciplined armed forces.
SSHURSA finally calls on President Kiir to take up the commitment by following the due process of the law to ensure that his army does not continue violating human rights with impunity. President Kiir should also ensure that court martials are set up and equipped with well trained legal personnel, capable of ensuring that justice is not only done but is seen being done. President Kiir’s words and actions should match the value of his office.
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